Because we know it’s important to have your finger on the pulse of all things boozy and delicious, we compiled a handful of the newest and best spots that have popped up in Austin. We've got a speakeasy with a creepy uncle vibe (fun creepy), a multi-level restaurant that literally sends patrons into the old boiler room to drink, and plenty more worth checking out.
All of the restaurants on this list are part of our ongoing quest to find this year's best new restaurants in America, and we're combing through every opening in every Thrillist city. Get involved on Instagram -- #BestRest2016 -- to let us know your picks and your favorite dishes at each of these new spots.
Tropical new bar Kitty Cohen’s -- from the same people behind The Blackheart and Proof & Copper is a throwback to 1970s Palm Springs complete with a shallow dipping pool, grand piano, and palm tree mural. On top of the exclusively throwback soundtrack (sorry Beyoncé) the classic-with-a-twist cocktails are all appropriately named, like the “Key Party,” a refreshing cucumber and citrus shareable punch served in a crystal bowl.
Serving American comfort food, Irene’s is the retro-inspired and unpretentious new venture for the restaurant group responsible for Italic, 24 Diner, and Easy Tiger. On your way to work, you can grab coffee and pastries (and even cigarettes!) from the to-go window, brunch with biscuits and mimosas on the shady patio, or get down with one of Irene’s famously boozy punches. And, as if all of that wasn’t great enough, Irene’s kitchen and bar serve until 2am.
Coast Bar & Kitchen is the newly opened spot housed in the former Mulberry space downtown. The cozy space offers an elegant take on Southern California and Gulf-inspired seafood. You can expect a small, curated menu; standouts include the Broiled Gulf Oysters (garlic sauce, parmesan butter, herbed breadcrumbs) and the Red Fish (oyster mushrooms, leeks, buttered radishes, chorizo, clams) which is so delicious, you may find yourself drinking the broth right out of the bowl #sorrynotsorry.
Boiler Nine is the impressive new concept (from La Corsha Hospitality and helmed by Chef Jason Stude) located in the former Seaholm Power Plant --now a mixed-use mega-complex that occupies the Southwestern edge of downtown. The industrial space, attentive service, and creative cocktails are a perfect contrast to the unassuming comfort food on the menu. For brunch, you can’t go wrong with the Green Goddess salad, and the B9 Benedict (poached eggs, salsa verde hollandaise, crispy fried pimiento cheese base). In the basement you’ll find the Boiler Room, a candlelit cocktail bar slinging drinks designed by acclaimed bar veteran Jason Stevens. Take the elevator up and check out the sprawling view on the deck with coin-operated binoculars and casual stadium-inspired fare.
A new, very legit speakeasy exists in Austin. Red Headed Stepchild is the new bar from the guys behind HandleBar (and conveniently located next door). Underneath the “Floppy Disk Repair” sign, there is a door with a keypad next to it; punch in the secret code and enter. Swings, macabre taxidermy, a Ouija board and “mmm... your hair smells pretty” emblazoned in neon are just a few of the bar’s “charming” qualities. The drink menu includes classics like a frozen piña colada, a Vieux Carré, and the very classy “Lean in my Cup #purpledrank”. As for the secret code... well if I told you it wouldn’t be a secret anymore, would it?
Prohibition Creamery has geniusly combined ice cream and booze in their new Eastside shop (Seriously, why doesn’t this already exist?). You can have all natural, artisanal alcoholic ice cream, sorbet, and shakes AND craft cocktails, wine, and beer. Your mouth may water over the Triple Bourbon Milkshake, Pineapple Tequila Sorbet, Vanilla Bean Daiquiri, and Tamarind Whiskey Sour.
At General Tso’Boy, Gary and Jessica Wu are giving the traditional banh mi a makeover; imagine soft, crunchy French bread instead filled with American Chinese flavors. Try the namesake General Tso’s chicken, it’s a battered chicken thigh, sweet/savory General Tso’Boy sauce, dressed with lettuce and mayo, and served on fresh Easy Tiger bread. Pair that with a Cheeseburger Spring Roll for the ultimate culture mashup.
Literally everything is made painstakingly from scratch at L’Oca D’oro, and co-owners Fiore Tedesco and Adam Orman wouldn’t have it any other way. House-made charcuterie, fermented mushrooms, and handmade pasta in shapes you’ve never seen before are just a few of the impressive techniques that are performed here daily. Be sure to order the complex and earthy wood-roasted mushroom lasagna and meatballs served with tomato jam, pecorino cheese, and garlic toast.
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1. Kitty Cohen's2211 Webberville Rd, Austin
2. Irene's506 West Ave, Austin
3. Coast Bar and Kitchen360 Nueces St #20, Austin
4. Boiler Nine Bar + Grill800 W Cesar Chavez St, Austin
5. Red Headed Stepchild119 E 5th St, Austin
6. Prohibition Creamery1407 E 7th St, Austin
7. General Tso'boy11501 Rock Rose #152, Austin
8. L'Oca D'Oro1900 Simond Ave, Austin
Inspired by the rebellious women in everyone's lives, Kitty Cohen's prides itself on its 1970s-trash vibe, with an interior that looks like a much more stylish version of your parent's living room from back in the day with mod furniture and funky patterned wallpaper. The outdoor kitchen out back serves a young and fashionable crowd while they lounge around the shallow dipping pool, listen to oldies, and share strong bowls of tropical, spiked punch.
Complete with a spacious, shrub-lined front patio, food prepared to-go, and a 2am closing time, Irene's is an ideal stop on your next crawl down 6th. This modern take on the American diner in the 1960s is named for one owner's Grandmother who could drink everyone under the table and knew a thing or two about Southern hospitality. They certainly follow her spirit with a menu full of simple but strong cocktails, steaks, and sandwiches.
The gray and blue color scheme and sleek furnishing of this restaurant in the former Mulberry space downtown screams upscale seafood, and rightfully so -- the rapidly changing menu only features a few (around 6 at a time) seasonal, hand-picked dishes, usually along the lines of a fresh grilled fish or bbq prawns, all presented in the same way the restaurant itself is. That is, with an excellent use of white space and undeniable modern style.
If there's one word to describe Seaholm District's Boiler Nine, it's "refreshing." The spick-and-span white, industrial interior is doused in natural light from the massive windows and the open back patio, which happens to have a stunning view of West Austin and the Colorado River, and the cocktails follow suit, embracing mostly light liquors and fruits (mostly citrus; they really like their shandies here).
If you're among Austin's cool cats, then you'll have no trouble acquiring the secret door code to this speakeasy behind the "Floppy Disk Repair" sign in Downtown's Handlebar. Decked out in taxidermy, Ouija boards, swings, and a neon sign reading "mmm... your hair smells pretty," one could only describe this place as "creepy-chic," but the off-putting nature of the vibe will slowly melt away after a quirky "Lean in my Cup #purpledrank" cocktail or a frozen pina colada.
It's an absolute mystery why more businesses like Prohibition Creamery exist, but thank heavens this one just east of Downtown does. With the best idea, maybe ever, this shop combines the indulgences of your childhood (ice cream) with the indulgences of your adulthood (booze) for dangerously sweet and intoxicating creations. They are the violent delights minus the violent ends -- bourbon milkshakes, sangria sorbets, and whiskey chocolate ice cream come doused in chocolate drizzles and a boozy brandied cherry on top.
General Tso'Boy is, fortunately for us all, exactly what it sounds like: the joys of Chinese cuisine combined with those of Southern America -- all stuffed in fresh, French bread rolls. Sandwich fillings here are similar to what you'd find at your regular take-out joint -- general tso's chicken (obviously), black pepper beef, honey walnut shrimp -- but they're entirely elevated with peppers, nuts, and house-made sauces and sides of fries or spring rolls.
With food proffer like house-made charcuterie, fermented mushrooms, and unorthodox pasta shapes, the craftsmanship at L'Oca D'Oro (aka The Golden Goose) can't be beat. The restaurant lives in an airy, contemporary space, and is home to ample seating and a full-service, wrap-around bar. Pasta dishes like rabbit canneloni and black pepper tagliatelle provide unique flavor with the comfort of Italian familiarity, alongside other Italian inflections like pork Milanesa and mushroom lasagna.